NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Whisper numbers, those commonly acknowledged earnings estimates that go beyond published Wall Street numbers, are a key mover of stocks on earnings day.
But whisper numbers are hard to define. It's a little like catching a moonbeam in a jar--especially if you don't work on a trading desk, where whisper numbers are a frequent topic of conversation.
So what's an amateur trader to do, particularly in the case of
, which reports after the close today and often has stated expectations that come adorned with whisper numbers?
Amateur traders should go on a superlative search. Finding out the exact whisper number can be exceedingly difficult for anyone (hard to define, they are rarely published) but if in the lead-up to the earnings release, the media is throwing around superlatives, you know that whispered expectations far exceed Wall Street's published numbers.
That's exactly what is happening with Apple today, where the word "blowout" is appearing in headlines and bodies of articles with an eye arching degree of frequency. For those unfamiliar with Wall Street jargon, a "blowout" implies earnings that far exceed published Wall Street expectations. Motley Fool, for example, said that Apple will "post a blowout quarter." All Things D asked the question in a headline: "Will Apple Redefine the Meaning of `Earnings Blowout?'" It answered in the body of the article with a resounding yes. And while other publications also deployed the word "blowout," All Things D did one better by illustrating its article with a gushing oil well.
Considering the notable crowds in Apple stores, probable shift in iPhone sales into the quarter and popularity of the iPad during the holiday season, it is actually likely that Apple will, in fact, report a blowout quarter. But the whispers about a blowout quarter might temper the impact on the stock price during the day and even after the earnings. The expectations have already been acted upon. Everyone has already been whispering about higher numbers.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.
Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.
For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
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